What we learned: How a few companies are successfully using the Groundswell Framework, and what exactly it is that they are doing.

6 10 2008

Listening – companies must listen to what customers are saying to gain better understanding

– Starbucks: My Starbucks Idea (www.mystarbucksidea.com) – a place where registered users can provide ideas, feedback, and talk to each other about the drinks, the food, whatever; Starbucks also monitors twitter feeds and responds directly to customer complaints or questions.

– Sprint: monitors twitter feeds about the company.

– New York Times: The TimesPeople application (http://timespeople.nytimes.com/home/about/) allows users to share and recommend articles more easily than e-mail (which it also supports, though requires some fields have input).

– (Eventually listening) Comcast: Comcast began listening to and acting upon customer complaints at the customer blog Comcast Must Die (http://comcastmustdie.com/). Eventually won that user over by changing service levels and becoming a more customer friendly organization.

Talking – Through social interactive tools (blogs, forums, communities), begin spreading messages to customers

– Starbucks: gives feedback on ideas at its idea site (above), and responds to concerns via twitter.

Example: Anon. twitters: “wtf – i thought starbucks had free internets now… gotta love random open network connections.” 09:02 AM September 26, 2008. Starbucks replies: @anon a registered Starbucks card will get you 2 hours of free at&t wifi … at: http://www.starbucks.com/ca… 10:28 AM September 26, 2008.

– Sprint – responds to twitter concerns directly – see blog post from http://www.brandflakesforbreakfast.com attached at end of document.

– New York Times: Over 60 blogs with content updated at least daily – many with world class authors such as Steven Dubner. Also uses twitter to send out headlines to followers (subscribers.)

Energizing – Determine who the most energetic users are and leverage their enthusiasm for the brand; essentially making them brand evangelists

– Starbucks: uses a leaderboard at the idea site to recognize significant contributors of ideas; contributors and members can vote for the best ideas which are then sometimes product tested

– Lego: the LUGNET group, which meets online as well as in person, consists of 25 ambassadors for the product and these positions are highly sought after – the title is, in essence, a reward that further incentivizes positive word-of-mouth.

– Apple: uses a reputation function to identify high quality posters among the many thousands who frequent their support and help forums

Supporting – Help customers support each other; an example is Dell’s user generated support forums – people have a natural affinity to help

– BestBuy: BB took this in an inward-facing direction – they set up Blue Shirt Network – a site where employees can connect, share their concerns, and get support from one another

– Apple: has user forums where users help each other

Embracing – After companies have succeeded in the first four steps, engage customers in product development through active feedback principles

– Starbucks: At My Starbucks Idea customer ideas sometimes become reality, as with their new smoother, richer hot chocolate that was obviously in high demand; also reversed their removal of the breakfast sandwiches due to customer feedback – customers have, in turn, responded positively and feel more like part of a community.

– Dell: the Dell IdeaStorm site has promoted user ideas and embraced changes – a site admin provides updates and personally welcomes new users that become solid contributors – many user generated ideas become reality, thus providing more impetus for fans to contribute again and again.

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3 responses

12 10 2008

Great post. The case studies supporting the Groundswell principles show why it is so important for companies. I have been following the way Dell have been approaching their journey to listening and engaging with their audience over the past three years. It is fascinating and they have done such a great job in turning negativity into positivity. I have prepared a post and presentation of their journey:

To prove Dell is actually listening to what people are writing about them online, Vida Killian, the Dell IdeaStorm Manager commented on the post and it provided me the opportunity to start a dialogue to understand more:

Would be interested in your thoughts.

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